London: 1864-1886. First editions. An unprecedented opportunity to examine and research in one place the rise, expansion, and repeal of some of Britain's most discriminatory public health acts affecting sex workers.
The Contagious Diseases Acts were a series of laws quietly passed by Parliament between 1864-1869 with limited press coverage, under the guise of protecting the British military from sexually transmitted diseases. Applied to certain towns and villages near military stations, garrisons, and seaports, the Acts gave local police increasing jurisdiction to arrest, detain, register, and conduct forcible genital examinations on women or LGBTQ+ people accused of being sex workers. Those who resisted or refused to comply could be sentenced to prison with or without hard labor; those found to be infected with any venereal illness were detained at hospitals at the discretion of physicians. Year by year, the laws expanded law enforcement and the public's abilities to punish women and LGBTQ+ people (engaged in or simply accused of sex work) with no evidence; and the lack of training and oversight of the men in authority resulted in the violation of these people's bodily autonomy and civil rights.
By 1870, public outcry was increasing. A feminist movement took root, calling on the government to develop commissions to look into the violation of sex worker and accused sex worker civil liberties and to document violations by authorities. Among the most vocal were the Ladies National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts. They, along with male allies with Parliamentary influence, were able to make advances in 1883 and 1886 toward protecting the rights and dignities of peoples affected by these laws.
The present collection of Acts documents this history in detail, with the first five titles tracing the foundation and expansion of the Contagious Diseases Acts and the final two titles documenting proposed changes and their ultimate repeal. Comprised of works that are the only examples of each title on the market, all Acts are complete and in Near Fine-Fine condition.
An Act for the Prevention of Contagious Diseases at Certain Naval and Military Stations; 29 July 1864. London: George Edward Ayre and William Spottiswoode, 1864. First edition. Measuring 300 x 190mm and collating complete: 10, [2, blanks]. OCLC locates 1 institutionally held copy of this work, which initiated the forcible registration, examination, and "lock hospital" detainment up to three months of any sex worker suspected of being infected with a venereal disease. Refusal to comply would result in 3 months imprisonment.
An Act for the Better Prevention of Contagious Diseases at Certain Naval and Military Stations; 11 June 1866. London: George Edward Ayre and William Spottiswoode, 1866. First edition. Measuring 300 x 185mm and collating complete: 22, [2, blanks]. OCLC located 1 institutional copy of this Act, which expanded the first act's jurisdictions, introduced mandatory fortnightly genital examinations of any suspected or accused sex worker, and allowed community and police surveillance and immediate forced examination when deemed appropriate by authorities. Hospital detainment was expanded from 3 to 6 months with no recourse.
An Act to Amend the Contagious Diseases Act, 1866. London: George Edward Ayre and William Spottiswoode, 1868. First edition. Measuring 300 x 190mm and collating complete: 1, [3, blanks]. OCLC locates 11 digital but no original copies. An expansion of enforcement of the 1866 Act to Ireland.
A Bill Intituled An Act to Amend the Contagious Diseases Act, 1866; Bill 255 [32 & 33 Vict.] Brought from the Lords 2 August 1869. Ordered by the House of Commons to be Printed 2 August 1869. London: [N.P.], 1869. First edition. Measuring 310 x 200mm and collating complete: 15, . OCLC locates 11 copies of this Bill, which proposed longer hospital detention for accused sex workers suspected of illness, an increase in towns included in the Act's jurisdiction, and wider catchment perimeters.
An Act to Amend the Contagious Diseases Act, 1866. 11th August 1869 [32& 33 Vict. Chapter 96]. London: George Edward Ayre and William Spottiswoode, 1869. First edition. Measuring 265 x 180mm and collating complete: 15, [1, blank] with errata tipped in before final leaf. OCLC locates no physical copies of this Act, which brought to fruition the proposed changes listed in the Bill above.
A Bill to Provide for the Detention in Certain Hospitals of Persons Affected with Contagious Diseases, and to Repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts, 1866-1869. Bill 259 [46 &47 Vict.] Prepared and brought in by the Marquis of Hartington... London: [N.P.], 1883. First edition. Measuring 310 x 200mm and collating complete: , 7, . Unrecorded by OCLC, this Bill was a major move toward gaining civil liberties and ensuring dignity for those affecting by the invasive surveillance and violent, discriminatory measures of the previous Acts. In particular, the Bill proposed to allow anyone forcibly detained in "lock hospitals" and refused discharge to request the magistrate to review the evidence and rule whether that person was entitled to discharge.
An Act to Repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts, 1866-1869. 16th April 1886. [49 Victoria, Chapter 10]. London: George Edward Ayre and William Spottiswoode, 1886. First edition. Measuring 260 x 180mm and collating complete: 1, [3, blanks]. OCLC reports 3 copies of this Act, which successfully ended all aspects of the Contagious Diseases Acts in their entirety. Considered a major victory by the growing feminist movement in Britain, and reflecting the tied missions of women and LGBTQ+ people in and out of the sex trade. Near Fine (Item #4480)